Sunday, August 29, 2010

Every year for the last 21 years a survey is made by one of the Korean News Magazines,  to determine how much influence our leaders have had on society. This year, the ranking in the religious sphere places Cardinal Chong number two (with a 24 percent rating) and Cardinal Kim (with 29 percent) number one.

Last year Cardinal Kim placed fourth on the list, but this year returned to first place--a ranking he has held for many years--because of the publicity that the Cardinal received after his death and the many works that have been given new life by his inspiration. The rector of the Catholic University said,  "After the death of the Cardinal his life and values moved from the Catholic world to the larger society where his thoughts became a milestone for many. "

Buddhism appears in five places on the list, indicating an increase in influence, and three Protestant Ministers are also listed.  The two Catholic representatives have over half of the percentages with about 54 percent. This could mean,  that the Catholic Church has  much influence on society or that religion as a whole  has   little influence on society.

The survey does not measure the amount of respect society has for our leaders but how much power and influence they have on society.  Catholic Newspapers have made mention of the survey but have put in a word of caution:  society changes quickly. The  common concern of many  with time grows very dim, and another completely different reality emerges.

But it is fitting that those in positions of authority live up to the expectations of society. And, as expected, the one having the greatest overall influence on society (with a 67 percent rating) was President Lee. Second on the overall list (21 percent) was the head of the biggest Chabol (Korean conglomerate). No surprises here, and fortunately that is the correct order. Cardinal Chong was number 15 in the overall influence in society. The only religious leader to be in the first twenty.

During the liturgy these days, Jesus is shown as unrelenting in his criticism of the Pharisees and lawyers and of their way of life. He selects these two groups because they had the most influence on that society. Both were members of the political and religious elite of that time.  Whether they had the respect of the society is another question; that they influenced society was clearly the case. Today we are fortunate that our two Cardinals have both influenced society and received its respect. As a consequence our society has greatly benefited.

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